MSC Cruises celebrates milestones for two ships

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MSC Cruises has taken delivery of its newest flagship, the MSC Grandiosa, from Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The ship employs advanced technologies designed to lessen environmental impact. The company also celebrated the cutting of the first steel and naming of the first World-class ship, the MSC Europa. It will be the first of five LNG-powered cruise ships to join the MSC fleet and the first LNG ship to be built in France.

“MSC Cruises has, since its inception, embraced a commitment to environmental stewardship and ways to minimise and continuously reduce our environmental footprint both at sea and ashore with the use of innovative, leading-edge and effective technologies across our entire fleet,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman. “With each new ship we raise the bar of environmental performance and our ultimate goal is zero emissions operations. MSC Grandiosa moves us another significant step forward in that genuine ambition.“

“Our journey, when it comes to environmental protection both while at sea and when calling the port communities that we serve, does not stop here,” Vago continued. “With each new ship, each time we will push the boundaries of innovation in terms of environmental technology. And, we will specifically focus our research and development investment into accelerating the development of next-generation advanced solutions and other technologies – from more alternative fuels, shore power availability, batteries, fuel cells and beyond. All of this while we retrofit and upgrade our existing fleet – one of the most modern at sea – with the latest and best available technologies to continuously improve our environmental performance fleet-wide.”

“The delivery of MSC Grandiosa and the official start of construction of the first World-class ship are two major milestones in the history of our partnership with MSC Cruises,” said Laurent Castaing, Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s general manager. “At Chantiers de l’Atlantique, we are happy and proud to provide our privileged customer with state-of-the-art solutions that significantly lessen the environmental impact of the ships. MSC Cruises can thus benefit from the result of research and development programmes we have been leading for the last 10 years on energy-saving schemes and environmentally friendly technologies.”

MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique also announced a new research and development project named Pacboat, which will focus on the integration of a new fuel cell technology demonstrator on board the LNG-powered MSC Cruises ship. It will produce electricity and heat using LNG.

The companies say the integration of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology onboard a cruise ship is a world first. They say this technology operates at very high temperature, ~750°C (1.382°F), and is more efficient for high-power marine applications than the low-temperature Hydrogen-based proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) solutions, like those used in the automotive sector. The SOFC technology is designed to offer electrical efficiency up to 60%, and as the heat produced can be self-consumed on board, its total efficiency – heat and electricity – can be much higher, resulting in a direct reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

This SOFC solution fuelled by LNG is designed to reduce emission of GHG by about 30% compared with a conventional LNG engine, with no emission of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides or fine particles. It can also use a variety of fuels (LNG/methane, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen, etc.), and their future low-carbon versions.

In addition to a hybrid ‘closed-loop’ exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS), which the companies say reduces ship sulphur emissions by 97%, MSC Grandiosa will also be the first MSC Cruises’ ship to feature a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, designed to reduce nitrogen oxide by 80%. All other MSC Cruises ships currently under construction will feature the SCR technology, including MSC Grandiosa’s sister ship, MSC Virtuosa, due to come into service in October 2020, as well as MSC Seashore, currently under construction at a different shipyard. This active emissions control technology conducts nitrogen oxide from the engine operations through a catalyst – a high-density device made from noble metals – and converts them into harmless nitrogen and water.

MSC Cruises is investing €5bn (US$5.5bn) in the construction of five LNG-powered ships. It says that compared with standard marine diesel, LNG reduces sulphur oxide emissions by more than 99% and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 85%, largely eliminates particulate matter in the ship’s exhaust and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as an additional 20%. MSC Europa is due to enter service in May 2022 and is the first of four World-class ships to be constructed at the French yard with further deliveries scheduled for 2024, 2025 and 2027. In addition, one Meraviglia-Plus ship will also be propelled by LNG when the ship comes into service in 2023.

Image: MSC Cruises

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Marisa has been writing about transport design and the passenger experience since 2013 and is also a contributor to sister titles Aircraft Interiors International and Business Jet Interiors International. She has travelled the world extensively by car, plane, train and cruise liner.

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